Lessons and activities for you to use today!
Chapter 1: 1491-1607 Inquiry Organizer
How did the collision of cultures create a “New World”?
BRI Scholar Talks Video Playlist
Join BRI Senior Teaching Fellow Tony Williams as he sits down with scholars to discuss historical topics throughout U.S. History.
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Fabric of History
Our Fabric of History podcast weaves together U.S. history, Founding Principles, and what all of this means to us today.
We have over 25 full curricular resources free for you to access.
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness is designed to meet the course needs of a yearlong U.S. History or AP U.S. History class. The history of the United States is presented through a series of narratives, primary sources, and point-counterpoint debates that invites students to participate in the ongoing conversation about the American experiment. The content is coupled with rigorous assessments that help students to develop historical thinking skills and reasoning processes.
Votes for Women
Votes for Women: The Story of the Nineteenth Amendment guides students through the story of the women's suffrage movement in the United States. Through rich narratives, primary source activities, and classroom-ready lessons, the curriculum explores the people, places, and events of the suffragist movement, inspiring students through the perseverance and courage of those in the movement and asking them to consider how one is able to carry out long-term change in order to better align institutions with the principles of liberty, justice, and equality. This framing provides a structure that allows students to explore how the suffragists mapped out a pathway for change to achieve the vote through the Nineteenth Amendment. The resource also contains capstone projects so that students can use the lessons of this curriculum to make a positive impact in their own communities.
Presidents and the Constitution
Presidents and the Constitution (Volumes 1 and 2) will allow students to explore how specific constitutional principles have applied in numerous situations in history. Volume I features fifteen lessons organized according to five constitutional themes: “The President and Federal Power;” “War and the Constitution,” “Slavery and the Constitution,” “The President as Chief Diplomat,” and “Electing the President.” Volume II features three new themes as well as second units on “War and Federal Power.” Presidents and the Constitution will help your students understand the powers delegated to the President in the Constitution, and with this knowledge, to be more informed citizens and critical students of history and current events. The curriculum is made possible by The National Endowment for the Humanities and Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr.
Congress and the Constitution
The First Branch: Congress and the Constitution guides students on a tour of the legislative branch of the government of the United States. Through primary source analysis and engaging activities, students will examine the purpose of a legislature, the design of the U.S Congress, its powers, its history and the reality of how Congress works today. This curriculum also includes an interactive model Congress project that puts students in the seats of legislators, helping them better appreciate the real challenge of making a bill become a law.
Being an American
Through primary source analysis, writing assignments, discussion prompts, and other activities, students will "connect the dots" by focusing on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civic values, American heroes, and exploring the meaning of citizenship to them.
Liberty and Security in Modern Times
Using primary source documents, writing assignments, discussion prompts and other activities, students will explore the difficult questions and natural tensions that go along with balancing liberty with security. This curriculum focuses on the balance between liberty and security in the last 60 years.
Founders and the Constitution
Founders and the Constitution: In Their Own Words, introduces students to twenty-four individuals who had a direct impact on the founding of our constitutional government. Students will explore the lives and ideas of the Founders, analyze their writings, and appreciate each Founder's role in shaping our government.
Preserving the Bill of Rights
Preserving the Bill of Rights teaches students Constitutional principles by examining primary source documents and significant Supreme Court cases. In addition, each unit features expanded classroom activities engaging students with the Bill of Rights and the responsibilities of citizenship. Students will understand the connection between current events and the Bill of Rights when they participate in activities such as writing letters to their elected representatives; serving in a mock jury; creating public service announcements; and writing model laws.
Religious Liberty: An American Experiment
In Religious Liberty: An American Experiment, students will gain an understanding of the importance of religious liberty in America, the way our Constitution protects it, and the reasons it is significant today. They will see how the example of religious liberty in America has become a model for many other nations and is an ongoing experiment.
Heroes and Villains
Heroes and Villains uses narratives to discuss the concepts of civic virtue in all classrooms. Each virtue narrative includes corresponding discussion guides, journal templates, a toolbox with additional activities, and suggestions for further reading on each topic or virtue.
Immigration and Citizenship
Immigration has had and continues to have a profound impact on the United States. Immigration and Citizenship in America examines the story of immigration in the United States by reviewing the nature of immigration and giving students tools to analyze the history of immigration both through the social history and the legal and policy debates from the Founding until the present. With this context in mind, students are better able to engage in the modern debates regarding immigration. Students will understand the factors that led early immigrants to the United States and the challenges they faced upon arrival. They will analyze how American lawmakers viewed immigrants and the evolving nature of immigration policy. Finally, students will use this knowledge to prepare and present their own plan for immigration policies.
Supreme Court Document-Based Questions
Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases that Changed History helps your students develop the critical thinking skills they need to evaluate the Court's rulings and the impact of these rulings on American society. Your students will analyze primary sources spanning five centuries--colonial codes of law, the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, contemporary photographs, case law, oral arguments, the Court's majority and dissenting opinions, and others. Key tasks for each DBQ will lead them towards an understanding of the role played by the Court and an assessment of its decisions. Each DBQ also contains a section called "The Issue Endures," which highlights current applications of the case issue.
BRI’s Homework Help Series Video Playlist
Short, classroom ready videos covering U.S. History, Government, and Civics topics
A Primary Source Close Reads Video Playlist
Primary Source Close Reading with BRI investigates some of the most pivotal speeches and documents that made America. In this series, join BRI staff Kirk Higgins and guests as they dissect how seminal documents, court cases, and speeches forged America’s development and impact our lives today.
BRIdge from the Past: Art Across U.S. History Video Playlist
BRIdge from the Past: Art Across U.S. History is a new YouTube series for students that explores an important historic image every episode to gain insights into the culture, politics, and society of a particular time in U.S. history. Host Mary Patterson will explain how each primary source is its own “window to the past,” revealing new areas for contemplation and discussion.
Fabric of History Podcast
The start of the school year prompts Mary, Gary, and Eryn to reflect on the broader concept of education and how schooling has evolved throughout history. They'll explore how educational structures reflected the times during which they were implemented and what modern-day schooling says about our values today. Has the purpose of education changed over time? And what should the future of education look like?
The Pox and the Covenant
For our first ever Fabric of History interview, Mary brings fellow BRI staff member Tony Williams on to discuss his book The Pox and the Covenant, a fascinating look at Boston’s 1721 smallpox epidemic and the far-reaching effects it had on colonial society and the relationship between science and religion. How did Puritan minister Cotton Mather and others employ new scientific methods to mitigate the epidemic? And what unlikely role did a young Benjamin Franklin have in response to them?
Selma, Montgomery and “Good Trouble”
Gary, Mary, and Eryn reflect on a particularly important moment in the civil rights movement, the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. They'll explore how the events of Selma fit into the bigger picture of the civil rights movement and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. What can this march teach us about the significance of turning points in a movement? And what lessons from it are still very relevant today?
Caucuses to Conventions
With the Democratic and Republican National Conventions fast approaching, Mary, Gary, and Eryn take a look at the history behind these pivotal electoral systems. From the elitist presidential nominating processes that defined much of the 19th and 20th centuries, to the more inclusive systems of the modern era, the roles of party caucuses, primaries, and conventions have shifted considerably over time. How have today’s elections come to represent the voice of the people?
Space and Beyond
Join Mary, Gary, and Eryn as they choose to go to the moon. They'll discuss the true motivations behind the famous "space race," the future of humans in space, and reveal which one of them would make a terrible lab partner in the process.
The Vanderbilts and the American Dream
We hear the phrase "The American Dream" all the time, but what does it actually mean? In this episode of Fabric of History, Mary, Gary, and Eryn explore this question by tracing the origins of one of the most successful families in American history, the Vanderbilts. What do the legacies of some of its most prominent members teach us about integrity and human nature?
Why Do We Celebrate the Fourth of July?
The 4th has many different meanings for many different groups in America. Some see it as a time to celebrate with barbecues, others ask deep questions about the prevalence of slavery conflicting with the ideas of freedom for all presented in the Declaration of Independence, many do both! Mary, Gary, and Eryn explore these themes and more.